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The wretched luck of the Welsh Grand Slam captain who’d just been given a second chance 

There’s a true story about a man who bet everything on a single spin of a roulette wheel.

Ashley Revell’s luck was in that night in Las Vegas.

Good for him.

Not all of us would entertain such a move.

Right now, Tom Phillips probably wouldn’t feel fortunate enough to gamble 10 pence.

For fate has turned against the former Wales U20s captain in a big way where rugby is concerned.

A succession of injuries, including a hip problem that sidelined him long term, befell the bearded back rower before his release by the Scarlets at the end of last season.

Read more: For the latest rugby news and interviews, stop by our home of Welsh rugby

Matters seemed to have improved over the summer when he was invited to train with the region to cover for injuries to others in the back row. Head coach Dwayne Peel even lauded his efforts after the friendly against Nottingham, with Phillips unyielding in defence and abrasive in all else he did, too.

It’s understood he received another chance with his home region in the shape of a fresh contract.

But what the gods giveth with one hand, they wrench away with the other. Last weekend in Edinburgh, Phillips suffered a knee injury that shows every sign of being serious. There are fears the 25-year-old will miss the rest of the campaign. If anyone is searching for a word to sum up Phillips’ rugby fortunes of late, ‘dismal’ will probably suffice.

“We’re waiting on a scan for Tom Phillips, but it doesn’t look good,” acknowledged Peel at the Scarlets midweek press call.

“I am disappointed for Tom because he has come back into the fold, trained really well and really put himself in the frame.

“He is from Llanelli, loves the club and is a really smart rugby player.

“It is a tough one to take for him.”



Tom Phillips led Wales to a U20 Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016

What is there to say?

Phillips had shown impressive resolve to force a change of heart at the Scarlets this summer. When Gist Vile spoke with him in May, he wasn’t in the least bitter at the way events had worked against him ahead of his release by the the region.

He noted how a combination of things had hit him, among them his fractured hip and the coronavirus pandemic, both of which denied him rugby.

And there was a philosophical outlook, as well, with Phillips saying: “Ultimately, it’s a job, and if you are not getting picked for your job, you have to move on.”

There was a plan to regroup at semi-professional level and possibly move into teaching at some point.

But when the summons came to help the Scarlets the man who skippered Wales to an U20s Grand Slam in 2016 didn’t think twice. A players’ player, he puts his body on the line and goes the extra mile for the team.

His sort deserve better than to be on the wrong end of the kind of luck that came his way last weekend.

Well-used to adversity, he knows what it takes to make it back from a serious knock.

All the rest of us can do is wish him well and hope he recovers quickly.

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